Why Do We Need Confidence?

4 Nov 2020
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Whenever I think of the word confidence, I have in my mind Maria Von Trapp singing in the sound of music:

I have confidence in sunshine,


I have confidence in rain,


I have confidence that Spring will come again


Besides which you see


I have confidence in me.

Maria is singing to find the courage to face the Captain with seven children as his new nanny.

But – does she have confidence, or is she whistling in the dark? And what is the difference between confidence and courage?

I’ll come back to that but first, why do we need confidence?

The answer seems obvious, doesn’t it! If I have confidence in my abilities, then I will go for that job. If I have confidence then I will walk into that room of strangers, start chatting and very soon make new friends. If I have confidence, I’ll ask her/him out on a date.

I’m going to turn that around.

If you have confidence, then that new employer may have the benefit of a great member of staff. If you have confidence, the strangers in the room will meet a delightful person and some of them may make a new friend. If you have confidence, then she/he will have an enjoyable date, even start a new relationship or, at the very least, receive themselves a confidence boost because you asked them out.

If we are confident, it is not just we who benefit, but the world.

If we are not confident, then we rob the world of a gift; the gift of ourselves.

There is a parable of a rich man and a poor widow. The rich man, passing the temple, ostentatiously gives an offering of several gold coins; the widow drops in two pennies. The widow’s offering is worth more because it was all that she had. She gave generously.

We may not think that what we have and what we are is worth very much, but if we do not offer it, then the world does not benefit.

Sometimes we do not ourselves value that which is precious to others. There are things that come easily to us, but which are unattainable for them. I am really good at coming up with creative ideas, for instance, but keeping my diary straight is like wrestling an octopus. I value admin skills.

When we doubt ourselves we don’t put ourselves forward. We don’t think we have much to offer and so we offer nothing at all.

Seven years ago, I hesitantly offered my first blog to Moodscope. There were professional writers on the team then, and I was totally outclassed.

Nearly 700 blogs later, however, I know my words have touched, helped, and even inspired many of you.

I now have the confidence to say, “I am a writer.” You have helped me gain that confidence.

Confidence starts with the courage to give what we have and are, even if we think it’s not very much.

It’s more than you think.

Mary

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

Email us at support@moodscope.com to submit your own blog post!

Comments

Molly

Nov. 4, 2020, 1:10 a.m.

Hi Mary I’ve never been confident, although surprisingly when working, people thought I was. Being a PA, I guess I hid behind my boss. I was respected because of him and not for myself. Confident people in general get a lot more respect I find, even if it is a mask they are hiding behind. I am not sure about the parable of a rich man and a poor widow. Why would a widow necessarily be poor? Because she relied on her husband? I suppose that was the case back then. 700 blogs, wow, that’s going some isn’t it. You ooze confidence in your blogs. I cannot imagine you to be anything else but a very confident lady. You either have it or you don’t ! I’ve pretended sometimes in the past. I remember walking into a party with a new haircut and a new outfit. Head held high. I was greeted by many who probably wouldn’t have if I had walked in like a sheepish sheep. Thing is it only lasted about half an hour and then I was a sheep again. Regarding admin, If you need a diary secretary, look no further! Molly xx

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 4:58 p.m.

Molly love, - you have NO idea how much I need a virtual PA! Today I had to ask my client what price I had offered her for the two modules she was taking together. Fortunately she remembered, because I didn't! This is the last "In-person" consultation I can deliver until December... You say I ooze confidence in my posts. Hmmm... I'm confident in some areas, I suppose. I've always been able to walk out onto a stage and play a part or give a speech; the difficult bit was learning to be authentic and "real" up there, rather than playing a part. I had to learn that people are happier if you're real. People are generally okay if you admit to vulnerability. One area where I really lack confidence is around my business ability. I recently joined a business book club, meeting with people who are running very successful businesses and who generate a far higher income than I. I have found that these people are really encouraging to me, even when I feel totally out of my depth. They even listen to what I have to say!!! I suppose we all need to get to the point where we're prepared to be laughed at, scorned or ignored in order to contribute our two pennies-worth. The rich man and poor widow parable comes from the Bible (Luke 21). In those days, if a man had died without leaving his widow any means of support, she had no way of earning a living for herself as a single woman in a male dominated society; so would be poor. Even in recent times that was the case. My mother was widowed in 1967 at 28, with two children and a third on the way. Owing to the laws of intestacy (my father did not leave a will), everything was sold up over our heads and she did not have enough to live on. We were taken in by my paternal grandfather on "charity," and my mother acted as an unpaid housekeeper for him, then my two paternal uncles, for 20 years. She had her widow's pension and the minuscule amount of income her share of my father's assets provided. In today's money, that would be less than £10,000 for her and we three children. If she were to give the equivalent of just £2 in the church collecting plate it would be a great sacrifice. And - so sorry to keep bringing my own upbringing into it. We all have our stories. I had a wonderful childhood compared to many. I was loved (all too briefly) by my father, still am by my mother and siblings, and these days no longer have to count every penny. I am blessed.

Tim

Nov. 4, 2020, 7:03 a.m.

Mary, You are indeed a writer. Thanks for writing so many blogs for us.

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 4:59 p.m.

Tim, Thank you. It is a privilege, an honour and - honestly - not only a pleasure, but essential "therapy" for me to write them.

Oli

Nov. 4, 2020, 7:12 a.m.

Thanks Mary. Confidence is a strange one. There's an important psychological phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger (DK) effect which basically shows that people think they know more than they do, and they are more confident about their "abilities". If you've not heard of it it's worth knowing about and I think it's worth digging into a little bit because it's often misunderstood. The DK effect is strongest with people who are actually incompetent so it's often held to be an effect that only applies to stupid people; it applies to all of us to some extent. We can't be expert about everything. DK is often misunderstood as saying that only applies to stupid people who think they're smarter than clever people. A person's confidence can bias our judgement. These days I tend to scrutinise where that confidence is coming from. Generally speaking, keep the emotions out of it, analyse the claims, and don't be persuaded by BS. It's everywhere -- yesterday witnessed a wonderful example of two people who *confidently* fabricated an explanation of something, reinforced each other's opinion and left it there "solved". I checked. That was all it took. I'm not a very confident person; I don't rate confidence -- it's very misleading to oneself and a lot of other people. Thanks for the blog Mary!

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Anonymous

Nov. 4, 2020, 10:21 a.m.

Very interesting Oli, the first types who come to my mind who suffer DK syndrome are those on those Simon Cowell singing shows, O and Donald Trump of course.

Valerie

Nov. 4, 2020, 12:06 p.m.

Oli,I seem to have encountered quite a few people affected by the DK effect.And don't get Spock started on ex-colleagues.The extraordinary thing is,despite often being exposed as "imposters" they go onwards and upwards,being given high salaries and powerful positions.Very odd! x

Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 5:13 p.m.

Thank you Oli. Yes - although I didn't know there was an official name for it, I think I understand: the less you know about something, the more confident you are. Maybe this is the reason we all think we could do better than our political leaders: we just do not know enough about the issues they face. An "Expert" is sometimes defined as a person who knows more and more about less and less (until he/she knows absolutely everything about nothing at all). I am an "Expert" in Personal Branding and Styling, yet I am so aware that there is much more that I don't know than I do know. You work in psychology and I always respect your opinion there: you know so much more than I. Also, the place you come from is generosity and respect, so I am always ready to listen with a positive and open mind; I trust you. I will indeed look into the DK effect. In some ways it maybe echoes something I first came across in the mid-nineties and which changed my life (I have had many life changes): YDKWYDK - You Don't Know What You Don't Know. Before today I didn't know that I didn't know the Dunning Kruger effect. Now I know I don't know it, so shall look into it. As always, Oli, thank you so much for your thoughtful, erudite, positive and kind comment.

Oli

Nov. 5, 2020, 11:09 a.m.

Thanks Mary -- here's a background thought which came up for me yesterday [the post above]: I dashed out my post in a rush and afterwards berated myself for being too quick. We all have things we don't like about ourselves and one of mine is the way my initial thoughts/ responses are too up their own **** (this is a medical term). I usually write then even a quick re-write feels better. I think my post [above] could have done with a re-write! I might even attempt a blog about DK -- it literally applies to everyone of all different levels of expertise -- you, me, Mr Thicky, and Einstein -- *and* it's an effect which is often reported not-quite-correctly- in newspapers, pop psychology pieces etc. But it's such a useful thing to know when assessing something like a person's apparent confidence and the effect it will produce on others including ourselves.

Mary Wednesday

Nov. 5, 2020, 8:09 p.m.

I should love to see a blog on the DK effect, Oli!

Sally

Nov. 4, 2020, 8:05 a.m.

Thanks for the blog, Mary! Confidence is something I’ve really struggled with over the years, it’s about trusting your own judgment above that of others. I like to be on firm ground. When I take a leap of faith, I prefer to see it as being courageous and if it works, then my confidence soars. Maria ( in The Sound of Music ) didn’t have the confidence she sang of, she had the courage to go ahead , knowing it was going to be difficult. Her confidence grew as her relationships developed and her gifts were recognised. Love is important here too. If you feel loved, you can grow in confidence. Confidence is a many faceted word indeed.

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 5:18 p.m.

That's why I wanted to compare confidence with courage. They are different. We say "Oh, if only I had the confidence to..." and it is really, "If only I had the courage to..." It's just that "courage" carries with it a moral imperative. For me, confidence and humility walk hand in hand. If I think my "mite" could possibly be useful, then I will offer it. Courage is to offer it, knowing it might be dismissed, laughed at, or despised. You are right, however, love is at the base. It is love that overrides fear.

Ruth

Nov. 4, 2020, 8:55 a.m.

Hi Mary I struggle a lot with confidence. I think, no I know it comes from being put down and belittled so much by others. The trouble is you believe that in the end. I try to drown out those voices but it's a hard journey. XX

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 5:23 p.m.

It is indeed hard. I urge you to think however, of the people you really admire and respect: think about how THEY see you. If the people you admire and respect, admire and respect you, doesn't that tell you something? If the people who have power but no moral authority despise you and put you down, doesn't that say more about them than about you? I have had the privilege of meeting you.Your sweetness, strength, love and compassion exude from you: you are just lovely.

Ruth

Nov. 4, 2020, 6:03 p.m.

Thank you Mary. That means a lot. XX

Kate

Nov. 4, 2020, 10:33 a.m.

Hi, I’ve realised that if you pretend to have confidence it works the same way & before you know it, it has turned into real thing.

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The Gardener

Nov. 4, 2020, 11:06 a.m.

I like that, Kate. Much of my life things were done with pure bravado - not taking stupid risks, but because my Pa did not know the meaning of 'NO' and so often there was no choice, and, as you say, confidence grows.

Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 5:24 p.m.

Confidence often starts in the courage to take action.

Kate

Nov. 4, 2020, 10:33 a.m.

Hi, I’ve realised that if you pretend to have confidence it works the same way & before you know it, it has turned into real thing.

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Rosie

Nov. 4, 2020, 10:57 a.m.

Thank you for the blog Mary. Interestingly I have just listened to today's BBC radio 4s Woman's Hour and there has been a main item on about confidence. Very topical today or are you also psychic Mary? Can be brought up in I sounds to listen . I do enjoy your blogs Mary ,they always give food for thought and are often very helpful. Kind wishes to all. Rosie

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Leah

Nov. 4, 2020, 11:07 a.m.

Mary thanks for the blog, I am counting how long it will take me to write 700 blogs and gain confidence in my writing. I think it will be about another ten years . I doubt myself but I still do things but just keep on doubting myself!!

Rosie

Nov. 4, 2020, 12:12 p.m.

Leah have you considered changing the word from doubt to question? It could be viewed as a much more positive and useful thing to self question than to self doubt. Hope that makes sense. Rosie

Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 5:41 p.m.

Hello Leah, All I did was turn one blog in a week. It wasn't always a Wednesday to begin with but at some point it began to be that. Lex did the Monday post and I did the Wednesday one. I became Mary Wednesday because there was another Mary commenting at that point and it was confusing. Once I was Mary Wednesday - then I HAD to write one for every Wednesday. If, in 2013, you had said, "Mary, do you realise that, by Christmas 2020 you will have written over 350,000 words for Moodscope, I would have laughed incredulously. Yet - it will be so... The "Confidence in writing" is a funny thing. I still feel faintly embarrassed when complimented on my writing because I know there are so many people who do it so much better (and also - as Oli indicates above - so many people who just cannot write, yet think they can - face-palm emoji). I think any confidence I have in my writing is more an effect of having written so much, questioned it, rewritten it, and sent it off in trepidation only to have it met with positivity... It has been a long journey. If you ask Caroline, she will tell you that very often I submit a piece asking if she thinks it "good enough". I write and think I have nothing to say - yet the blogs I feel have nothing to say, often speak most deeply to people and I get comments from readers who rarely engage. I would encourage you to write more and still more. Write out of the (seeming) paucity of your soul and give what you have: you will honestly find it more valuable to others than you ever would have believed.

Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 5:43 p.m.

Hello Rosie, Not at all psychic as far as I know, but thank you! Women's Hour, I think, was responsible for a big boost for Moodscope. My therapist listened to it in 2013 and said, "Mary - I think you'd find this helpful." I think Caroline and Adrian should send her a bunch of flowers!

Orangeblossom

Nov. 4, 2020, 11:04 a.m.

Hi Mary, thanks for your timely blog! I find that when someone has confidence in me I thrive. I hope that it isn’t misplaced confidence. I don’t show my feelings very often but don’t have much self confidence. I had a decision to make, & you helped me make it.

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 5:44 p.m.

Oh, bless you! Rarely, if ever misplaced, I think! You are a star!

The Gardener

Nov. 4, 2020, 11:11 a.m.

Morning Mary - beautiful here! Ironic, market days usually bad. Looking back, I see now we (now I) were very confident on decision making. Lots of people have thought, braver ones have said, that things we did were mad - but usually there was no choice, you made the best of things and learned from mistakes. Lovely 'knee-jerk' reaction. When I found I did not need a new boiler I celebrated by buying 200 euros worth of orchids for the 'winter garden' in my shop. Living with beautiful things will, I hope, make up in a very small way for all the things one CAN'T do.

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 5:48 p.m.

I admire you immensely, dear and lovely Gardener, for your courage in the face of adversity. For me, you exemplify "Grace under Pressure" and the pure valour that does not just endure, but celebrates and makes beautiful the worst of times. I think I admire you more than any other woman I know - except possibly my mother (and that's saying something).

The Gardener

Nov. 4, 2020, 6:52 p.m.

Mary - words just too kind! I think the people who helped me were so very, very good. The 6'5" son of the chemist, rushed round to plant agapanthus brought by an almost total stranger. He and I are into shelves and orchids next. I LOVE the young, seem to like working with the old!x

Moss

Nov. 4, 2020, 11:17 a.m.

I agree with Sally that it's about trusting in your differing abilities and competences. But if we've been told we are bad at something we internalise that and see confirmation of it in everything we do, because that is what we have become antennae-ed to see. Thus entering a vicious circle. I expect you do manage your diary and admin Mary, in your own particular way, which may be very different from the way Molly would do it, but neither is better or worse, just individual choice. I loathe admin and having been told off all my life for untidiness and apparent muddle, I now realise I do do it fairly efficiently and my systems work for me. This makes me less scared of it, which enables me to sometimes even enjoy it and the circle becomes more productive and creative and increases real inner confidence. But if someone with a different approach tries to tidy me up, then I can't find anything and I implode back into feeling bad and useless and rather cross with whoever did it. Even though I know they were just trying to help and then I feel angry with myself for ingratitude and so it goes on.

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 4, 2020, 6:15 p.m.

Dear Lupin, it does indeed go on and on and on.... I think for me, one of the most liberating things ever said to me was by a very dear friend (still a very dear friend 20 years on): "Mary," she said, "You couldn't administrate your way out of a paper bag - a wet paper bag, at that." With those words she set me free to admit to everyone that administration is difficult for me and to set out, right at the start, in all my relationships, that issue. After all, if you befriend a person of five feet nothing (actually, that's me, too), then you do not expect them to hand you things from high shelves. We can't all be good at everything. I am good at words, at creative ideas, at projects that take attention to details. But please, don't expect me to administrate! We need to value what we can do and (laughingly and ruefully) admit honestly to what we cannot do!

The Gardener

Nov. 4, 2020, 6:58 p.m.

I can't make bread, eclairs, meringues, putty windows, remember dance steps or music, I can't knock nails in or saw straight. My brick laying ends up 'rustic'. Windows are worse after cleaning than before. I could never climb a rope, etc etc etc.

Lex

Nov. 4, 2020, 6:59 p.m.

I think 'confidence' is a fascinating phenomenon, Mary. So many of us are waiting for confidence BEFORE we will take action. That's an interesting path to the future, but a very s-l-o-w one. I'd choose 'courage' over confidence any day. Courage takes action from the heart even when fear is present, imposter syndrome is present, and every voice SHOUTS, "You can't!" Take course, add a commitment to action, and you will find that you develop new capabilities. Then confidence arises as a by-product of your bold audacity. I love feeling confident, but when I don't courage and commitment come first. Lx

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 5, 2020, 8:12 p.m.

You are so right, Lex - courage comes first, confidence after.

Ian

Nov. 5, 2020, 8:32 a.m.

Interesting blog Mary. I liked the comparison to Maria. Obviously she was scared, and was singing to 'screw her courage to the sticking place', but was she, in fact, confident of her abilities? Perhaps not then, but she clearly did amazingly well as a nanny, even stood up to that ******* Captain. (Falling in love with him later may have been a mistake!) So I think she is an excellent parable to your argument. Had she turned around and gone back to the nunnery she would have deprived the von Trapp children of an inestimable amount of happiness and growth - and the Captain of some much needed restraint!

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 5, 2020, 8:13 p.m.

I always did wonder just why she fell for him. Thank you Ian. I appreciate your kind words.

Carol

Nov. 5, 2020, 9:36 a.m.

I always look forward to your Wednesday blogs, Mary. They are so well written and always draw me in and support me by shining light in ways I can almost always relate to. Thank you. I always assumed you wrote professionally. Interesting that In today’s blog you seem to say that writing for Moodscope In itself has given you the confidence to believe in yourself as a writer. Hope I’m not adding this comment too late for you to read it.

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 5, 2020, 8:14 p.m.

Hello Carol, You always assumed I wrote professionally? Oh, please have a big hug! Those are golden words indeed. Thank you so much.

Suzy

Nov. 5, 2020, 3:52 p.m.

Such a great post Mary!

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Mary Wednesday

Nov. 5, 2020, 8:15 p.m.

Thank you Suzy, I am so glad you liked it.

Daren

Nov. 8, 2020, 10:37 p.m.

After reading this, I went to my “Inspiration” folder where I keep old emails and found one of yours from 7 years ago (7/13/13, “The Five Languages of Love”). To be clear, even then your writing struck a chord for me. You were far from “outclassed” and your writing has a distinct voice - at least, that is, I generally find that I know when I’m reading your writing. So... what is interesting for all of us must be the fact that confidence isn’t a perception objective reality but simply our perception of ourselves or our abilities in our perceived reality. Seven years ago, your writing was superb (although you may have though otherwise). Your confidence in your writing wasn’t but it took the encouragement and support of a community to create the sense of confidence you have in yourself today. Interestingly enough, that confidence, I would bet, isn’t fragile and can withstand some criticism. Perhaps it is even anti fragile. And yet, your writing of 7 years ago deserved as much confidence as you have in your writing now. I can only imagine people comparing themselves to your work and feeling outclassed. But, to be clear, the strongest posts are always those that are authentic and demonstrate both the inherent strength and vulnerability that we all share. Thank you for your commitment to this community!

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